How Gov. Suntai governs Taraba State from his hospital bed in Germany
by Isi Esene
Governor Danbaba Suntai who is currently receiving treatment in a German hospital after being involved in a plane crash in Yola, Adamawa State, is said to be calling the shots right from his sick bed.
Suntai was flown to Germany a week ago in a Swiss Air Ambulance, a Challenger 604 with registration number HB JRC after receiving treatment at the Federal Medical Centre, Yola and the National Hospital in Abuja. He is said to be in a stable condition before the trip abroad with his condition said to be improving in Germany.
With the governor’s health condition just after the crash, observers expected the deputy governor of the state, Garba Umar, to take over governance in acting capacity so as to fill the vacuum left by the governor since governance is a continuum but these expectation did not materialize.
There were rumours of certain powerful elements in government who did not want the deputy governor to assume the role of Governor in whatever capacity thereby doing everything within their power to frustrate his alleged ambitions.
Umar, however, debunked these rumours saying it was far from reality.
The deputy governor said, “The report is totally false, mischievous, and misleading. In fact, there are no thugs in Jalingo in the last five years. I was sworn-in as deputy governor of the state. The governor is only sick and not dead. He is in a stable condition as confirmed by Mr. President and the Chief Medical Director of National Hospital, Abuja. I remain the deputy governor of the state.”
While toeing the same line of reasoning with Garba, the State House of Assembly declared that there is no need for a change of baton saying the governor is very much alive and still active.
The House reportedly maintained that Suntai would remain as governor until his physicians confirm that he is no longer physically and mentally fit to continue to be in office.
The Chairman, house committee on information, Hon. Ishaya Gani, gave the position of the House saying, “Medical doctors of the governor have to confirm that he’s not fit to continue in that office before an acting governor would be sworn-in. I doubt if it is possible to swear-in the deputy governor at this stage because there is no report that the governor is no longer capable to function in that office.
“Here, the governor is still alive and from reports, he is still physically and mentally fit to act and function as governor. Therefore, there’s no basis at this stage to swear-in an acting governor,” he added.
Reports say Suntai’s condition has improved since his admission at the German hospital and has been giving directives to Umar on phone to run the affairs of the state.
Specifically, he was said to have given the deputy governor the authority to approve and release funds for the running cost and payment of salaries of staff of Taraba Publishing Company Limited, publishers of Nigeria Sunrise, the state owned newspaper.
Suntai was billed to give approval for the release of the Sunrise fund a day after he was involved in the crash, and the SSG, Ambassador Njiwah, met with the deputy governor to resolve the issue. Umar was said to have put a call through to his boss who directed him to release the fund.
As the 21 days prescribed by the Constitution for the declaration of Umar as acting governor, the people of the state and Nigerians generally continue to pray for Suntai’s speedy recovery. The governor from faraway Germany continues to call the shots and make the decisions as regards the governance of the state unhindered.